What I’m Into – May 2015

My oldest daughter decided to start doing these monthly updates and I thought it was a great idea.  I even decided to join the What I’m Into link party at Leigh Kramer‘s blog.


IMG_1356OUT-AND-ABOUT:

  • Wizard of Oz ballet performance – my oldest daughter’s mother-in-law designs and makes all the costumes for this ballet company … amazing!  (Click the link to see some photos from the performance.)
  • Early Mother’s Day dinner at Anthony’s Homeport Restaurant in Des Moines, WA
  • Spent Mother’s Day with my 104-year-old grandma
  • Walked at Mill Pond Park in Auburn, WA looking for ducklings but found awesome bullfrog tadpoles and a Great Blue Heron instead (photos are from that day).

IMG_1354READING:

  • Urban Tumbleweed by Harryette Mullen
  • Spring and All by William Carlos Williams
  • Critical Digital Studies: A Reader, edited by Arthur Kroker and Marylouise Kroker
  • Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, by Donna Haraway 
  • Letters to Wendy’s, by Joe Wenderoth
  • Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine
  • and several others that I’ve currently spaced out about completely ;)

While reading a required book in the MFA program this week, it struck me how —  for those of us living in urban environments — modern nature study and nature walks often involve city sights and sounds as well as the local flora and fauna.  Harryette Mullen’s book of poetry, Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary, is the author’s poetic reflections on a year of walking outdoors in LA, in local parks, and in various places she visited throughout the year.  Mullen chose the Japanese tanka form as her way of recording her walks.

A tanka is a 31 syllable poem often reflecting on the role of the human in relation to nature.  I had a brainstorm while reading this book, that perhaps a short daily (or weekly) tanka (or haiku) might be an excellent addition to personal nature journals or other journaling/notebooking ventures.

Several months ago, I posted some of my own tankas written after walking in local parks.  You can read them if you’re interested.  It was my first attempt at the tanka form so it’s not very good.  But whatever.  :)


IMG_1353MOVIES/TELEVISION:

No television reception, so I’ve been binge watching my way through all of the Star Trek series.  :)


IMG_1367MUSIC:

I feel silly but I only just now realized I can check out music CD’s from our local library.  I have to stop by the library at least once a week to print things for school (our library gives us 75 pages per week of free printing), so I think I’m going to browse through music while I’m there.  My commute to and from school  while stuck in rush hour traffic gives me plenty of time to listen to new music.  I’m actually excited!

One thing fun about listening to the Crazy Heart CD is that it’s reminded me that I really do have a love for old-time country music.  Waylon and Willie era.  I also love Jerry Jeff Walker.  Time to dig back through some of my old and forgotten CDs.


GRAD SCHOOL:

This month we turned in our proposals for our thesis project for next year, and also were assigned our thesis advisor.  I got my first choice for thesis advisor!  I couldn’t be happier!  :D


IMG_1366BLOGS and BOOKS and EZINES, oh my!

I ran a freebie giveaway of the ebook versions of several of my books for Mother’s Day.  Nearly 3,000 free ebooks were given out over the course of the five day event!  Wow.  Just wow.  :)

I spent the last afternoon of May getting things organized for the June contests on my publishing website.  Feel free to check out the first contest (prize will be an autographed copy of one of my books):


I’ll be trying to remember to post one of these monthly wrap-ups at the end of each month this year.  I’m not really updating this blog regularly right now with all my school-related things going on, so I thought this could be a nice way to keep in touch a little bit more.

Hope everyone’s well!  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you’re out there.

Simply Yours,

Debi

Experiment: Forbidden Topics


“Forbidden Topics”

(Inspired by Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine)


When I was two, my mother went to the hospital to give birth to her second child.  But came home with vacant arms, a missing uterus, and erased dreams of the ideal two-child family.  Because I was so young, nobody told me what had happened. But my earliest memories start around that time.

One of my first memories of my mother is finding her sitting alone in her bedroom, sobbing with a grief I’d never imagined could exist.  Was she thinking about her lost child?  Her lost uterus?  Her lost dreams?  It scared me.  Then I started crying.  Mom held me, and rocked me in her arms.  We cried together.

Looking back now, I assume she cried for her various losses.  I cried for a loss, too.  The loss of security.  Of feeling my mother could protect me from the great sorrows of life.  If mom was unable to keep sorrows away from herself, I knew there was no way she could keep sorrow away from me, either.

I spent most of the next year living with my grandparents while my mother was in a mental hospital/asylum with what today would probably be considered a severe case of post-partum depression.  I’m sure it was a great sorrow for a two-year-old child to be separated from her mother for that long. I guess I didn’t need to wait long for that prophetic feeling of approaching sorrow to reach my life.

Back then, what did they call what mom suffered from?  A nervous breakdown?  Mental instability?  Depression?  A momentary loss of happiness?  I asked my uncle, my mom’s youngest brother, about it.  He remembers she went to a mental hospital up north somewhere.  In Burlington or Sedro Wooley.  But he was in junior high at the time and had preteen dramas of his own to think about.  His memories of what was happening with his married older sister are spotty at best.  He does remember something about electric shock therapy.

My dad never talked about it.  Ever.  Mom’s hospitalization was a forbidden topic.

Our family had a number of forbidden topics.

E

Poem: Wonder and Admire

Okay, so I wrote another cento poem (collage poem) using Charlotte Mason’s book The Outdoor Life of Children as my source text. You’re all probably getting tired of this, aren’t you?


lilyCento (collage poem)

Source Text: The Outdoor Life of Children


Wonder and admire —

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow,

from the ploughing of the land

to the getting of the crops.

By-and-by there is fruit.

Meadow and pasture,

clover, turnip, and corn field.

Some lovely flower or gracious tree,

the movement of branches,

shadows of boughs making patterns

on the white tablecloth.

Hum of bees.

Shines forth the blushing flower

to blossom —

to germinate —

to bear fruit —

Milkwort, eyebright, rest-harrow, lady’s bedstraw,

willow-herb, every wild flower.

Break off an elder twig in the spring

— describe the leaf

— the manner of flowering

— the dangling catkins

— rough or smooth leaves

— rough or smooth bark

Stare up into a tree or down into a flower

to see

the sublime

tender and living sculpture.

Poem: The Outdoor Life of Children

The Outdoor Life of ChildrenI’ve been playing around quite a bit lately with erasure and found poetry.  Today I constructed a cento (a collage poem) made from words/phrases found in The Outdoor Life of Children by Charlotte Mason (a British educator from the last century).


The Outdoor Life of Children

A child has a natural interest in living things

Some children are born naturalists

A very prophet of nature

Communing with the larger Mother

Unbounded interest and delight

Capering about in endless ecstasy.

Drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child

Make full use of opportunities

Watching the ways of sparrows.

Infuse into them

A seed of sympathy

A love of investigation.

The sense of beauty comes from early contact with nature

A boudoir full of shells and fossils

Flowers and seaweeds

The movements of the bird, cloud, lamb, child

Unspeakable awe and delight

He is in bliss.

The sad child-life from which bees and birds and flowers are shut out.

Let him work with things

Not with signs

The things of Nature in their own places

Meadow and hedgerow

Woods and shore.

Cherish in each child

Their capacity of being pleased.

Children are storing up memories of a happy childhood

Every hour spent in the open air is clear gain.